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The Chemical History of a Candle
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The Chemical History of a Candle

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  287 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
One of the greatest experimental scientists of all time, Michael Faraday (1791–1867) developed the first electric motor, electric generator, and dynamo — essentially creating the science of electrochemistry. This book, the result of six lectures he delivered to young students at London’s Royal Institution, concerns another form of energy — candlelight.
Faraday titled the le
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 13th 2003 by Dover Publications (first published 1861)
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Catherine to my knowledge, W. Crookes was the original editor and provided a preface, which is included in some publishings of the book.
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Mar 13, 2014 Aida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A series of six lectures given by the natural philosopher Michael Faraday, in which he describes what happens when a candle is lit. Written in 19th-century English, it is not a clear or precise as science books written today, but I really enjoyed it because it was lovely to take something so small and everyday as a candle and break down everything that happens with it, from how they are made to the carbon dioxide (or carbonic acid) that is produced in combustion. He even links together the combu ...more
Roy Lotz
I wish I could rate this book higher, but I can’t. Faraday is certifiably awesome, and it would definitely be worth a trip in a time machine to have seen his lectures. But, for me, reading them fell a little flat.

This was partially my fault, as I read a copy with no pictures, and this book would have been greatly improved by some illustrations. Nonetheless, I found it difficult and dry to follow page after page of descriptions of demonstrations—demonstrations that would have been both easy-to-fo
Amar Kamat
Jun 05, 2012 Amar Kamat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for a senior-level combustion class that I took some years ago. Through the simple example of a candle and using easy-to-follow arguments, Faraday is able to deduce the physics involved around the flame (the capillary action of the wick, the convection currents, the combustion inside the flame) and boil it down to the level of laymen (this book is a collection of lectures he gave to children to popularize science in his day). Faraday had minimal mathematical training, and ...more
Sep 25, 2009 Krista rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I want someone to recreate these lectures; they were fun to read but my feeble mind needs visual upon which to latch. Bill Nye, are you reading this?
Chris Hart
My New Year's non-resolution was to read the Harvard "Great Books". I picked this one up because it was the shortest. Mass communication has moved on from Dr Faraday and from the Great Books. Reading this was like reading a transcript of a youtube video. I'm sure it was fascinating to see his lectures in person and the experiments he demonstrated. In print...not so much. And candles were obviously much more important in the 19th century than they are now, when I use them to scent the air in my h ...more
Nick Black
May 19, 2008 Nick Black marked it as gave-up-too-boring
Impulse acquisition from Barnes & Nobles 75% rack, 2008-05-19. I expect this to be decent, but fear Enlightenment-era English twaddle. Either way, it's a Dover book at 75% off, meaning less than a pack of cigarettes -- everyone's a winner!

update: yeah, I got overwhelmed by aforementioned English twaddle. The physicists of last century's turn were a strange lot. Let us invoke the Tao; they:

"...were mysterious and profound. We cannot fathom their thoughts, so all we do is describe their appear
Tom Quinn
This book is important as an artifact that illuminates (har har) the scientific mindset of the 1800s, an exciting time when learned people were articulating the processes that control the natural world. It's a series of lectures given to young people to demonstrate experimental techniques and findings, sort of a "19th century Mr. Wizard" thing. It must have been fascinating to attend and hear in person at the time.

But it can be dull to read. Very dull. Like, close-to-textbook-dull dull. At least
Ricardo Guerreiro
Aug 01, 2011 Ricardo Guerreiro rated it really liked it
I wonder at the world, perhaps even too much, and so I never really understood my small or barely existent interest in Chemistry. Always enjoyed Physics, Biology and other Earth Sciences but Chemistry... Reading through Faraday's lectures and imagining them happening on the go, and seeing the amazing simplicity of the examples and experiments by which he demonstrated chemical phenomena, shone a new light on this matter of Chemistry for me. Even though basic and juvenile oriented, I wished that e ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Elessar169 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book is great...the only reason I didn't rate it five stars is that in the reading some of it felt scattered. However, I think there is reason for this...I think Faraday was so excited and fired up giving the lectures that he was always trying to hold himself back from disclosing his conclusions without going through the arguments.

I think he would have been great to see in where did I put that time machine...
Paul De Belder
Sep 16, 2014 Paul De Belder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
The text is often too concise, based as it is on notes made by an attendant to Faraday's lectures. A good grasp of physics and chemistry is sometimes required to follow the descriptions of the experiments. I learned a lot from this small book, though, on basic chemistry I thought I understood well enough.
Eliot Parulidae
May 03, 2014 Eliot Parulidae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
For today's audience of chemistry students and Victoriana buffs, A Chemical History of a Candle will prove an odd, charming little discovery. It's a series of lectures on combustion that Michael Faraday, who discovered electromagnetic induction and also made time to be the Bill Nye of his day, delivered to a group of schoolboys in 1860.
Aug 06, 2013 Mkfs rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the layman interest in chemistry
Dated, but good.

This is a series of lectures demonstrating the chemical processes that are involved in burning a candle (and combustion in general). There are digressions into atmospheric composition, metallurgy, and metabolism.
Jun 20, 2016 Nando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great small book containing 6 lectures. Each chapter contains all his talk and some descriptions of the experiments he did. He conduces audience in a clear line to thought to demonstrate the goal of the lesson. All experiments are so elegant!
I just can't believe it is 150 years old...
Oct 18, 2012 Edelweiss rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
When I read it, I remember adoring it. Faraday is a great scientist, and his lectures are interesting, meaningful, and enlightening. This book is almost an example of how to make any topic sound cool.
Michael Faraday gave beautiful lectures for children, where he performed scientific experiments and explained the science in ways that children could understand. Faraday's lectures were so fun and exciting that they became world-renowned events.
Feb 10, 2008 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Michael Faraday gave beautiful lectures for children, where he performed scientific experiments and explained the science in ways that children could understand. Faraday's lectures were so fun and exciting that they became world-renowned events.
Apr 10, 2012 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit over my head at times, but interesting from a science history perspective since these are verbatim transcriptions of the lectures Faraday gave.
Mike Budzik
I read this because it was mentioned in Feynman's "The Meaning of It All". It was not quite as good as I had hoped.
Patrick Lamb
Aug 15, 2012 Patrick Lamb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In context this book is amazing. Most of the topics in this book are covered in high school chemistry, but this was written in 1861. I must say that I have a new found appreciation for the candle.
May 06, 2016 Shaunt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory
A series of lectures outlining the chemical processes of combustion, penned by the brilliant Michael Faraday.
Mark Bates
Sep 04, 2013 Mark Bates rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the Victorian Era when people went to lectures for entertainment. This is Michael Faraday's lectures and entertainments....boom. Pretty good in a nerd / geek sort of way.
Greg rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2016
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Feb 15, 2012
T J Gilligan
T J Gilligan rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2017
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Aug 01, 2015
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Mar 12, 2016
Peter McFarlane
Peter McFarlane rated it really liked it
Dec 20, 2014
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Jun 02, 2016
Justin Cunningham
Justin Cunningham rated it really liked it
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Manolo Almagro
Manolo Almagro rated it it was amazing
Jun 22, 2014
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Michael Faraday, FRS (22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include those of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

Although Faraday received little formal education, he was one of the most influential scientists in history. It was by his research on the magnetic fi
More about Michael Faraday...

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